Surgical Strikes-What’s the impact on India?

Albert Einstein was quite right when he said  “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”

The recent surgical strikes across the border have to be understood in its proper perspective. The relationship between India and Pakistan has never been normal; the bitterness of Partition was aggravated by the unsolved Kashmir issue. Also, while India became the world’s largest democracy, in Pakistan the Army became the dominant force.

Unfortunately, the attacks led some ministers to start beating their chests in triumph and looking forward to electoral gains. The opposition felt that they may be left behind in the electoral stakes, and this has resulted in a wholly avoidable fight among our political parties. Some sections of the media, counting its TRPs, have been encouraging jingoism without counting the costs of war. The costs of war, especially nuclear war, are horrendous. We should also remember that we are facing an unstable, possibly failed, state.

Going forward, what are India’s options? Pakistan still has nuclear weapons, jehadis and the Pakistan Army in power. Given these constraints, we have to continue to make serious efforts on several fronts. This will include trying to isolate Pakistan diplomatically, fencing the border effectively, improving the capability of the Indian armed forces, and occasionally hitting back without escalating into full-fledged war. Obviously this will not be easy and will call for a lot of maturity. On the other hand, encouraging jingoism will not make our country great – improving the economic lot of all our citizens and providing them the essentials of living including jobs, physical infrastructure, education and health services will. As US President Theodore Roosevelt famously said on diplomacy, “Speak softly and carry a big stick”. This would basically imply proceeding with caution and non-aggression, backed up by the ability to do violence if required.